In a game of two-halves, Chelsea beat Fulham 0-1 at Craven Cottage.
The match was dominated by the home side in the first-half but a sending off just before the break allowed the Blues to take control and, ultimately, win the game in the second-half. Who were the winners and losers?
Winner: Mason Mount
“We needed a win,” said Mason Mount post-match. And it was Mount who delivered that win in the second-half with a well-taken snapshot. The goal saw him pounce on a defensive error, but it was still a very impressive first-time finish to rifle the ball low into the net.
Mount’s finishing ability has always been impressive, but what was best about him today was the way that he kept on driving Chelsea forward. He looked by far the best Chelsea player in attack, not because he especially did anything remarkable (although he created a game-high 7 chances through open play and set-pieces) but mostly because he just kept on trying. His work-rate is off-the-scale, it sets the tone for the rest of his game and made him stand out against Fulham.
Mason Mount created seven chances for Chelsea vs. Fulham, no Blues player has created more in a Premier League away game across the past five seasons.
Another sensational display. ✨ pic.twitter.com/5MLyclZmCQ
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 16, 2021
“I probably should have had two as well,” Mount added. Emphasising that he has a perfectionists attitude, that he understands that football is a constant battle to improve yourself. It just confirms that attitude is Mount’s greatest attribute and why, more than any technical skill, he is going to make it as a top-tier footballer. The man simply never gives less than 100%.
Loser: Alphonse Areola
It seems churlish to call a goalkeeper a loser for conceding a goal to Chelsea. The Blues are an intensely stacked side in attack with a number of Champions League and international goalscorers and with 32 goals came into today’s game as the fourth-highest scorers in the league.
But their goal today came because of a goalkeeping error. A blunder, if you will. All Areola had to do was deal with Ben Chilwell’s cross in a more assured manner, tapping it over the bar or perhaps even catching it. But the Frenchman panicked at the presence of Tammy Abraham and flapped at the ball and knocked it back into the danger zone where Mason Mount slammed home.
Winner: Frank Lampard
A win is a win. Chelsea didn’t play well and had Antonee Robinson not been sent off you could argue that Fulham might actually have ended up winning the game. They were certainly the better side up to the sending off and really ought to have scored through Ivan Cavaleiro.
But after the sending off, Chelsea gained the initiative. They pushed up and forced Fulham further and further back. They built up pressure and eventually knicked a goal off a goalkeeping mistake. It wasn’t good, it wasn’t glorious, but it was a win. An away win, at that. Chelsea’s first on the road since late November 2020 and it lifts them all the way up to 7th place.
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Loser: Antonee Robinson
Modern football is mostly pretty good, but there’s also some bad things in it. They range from mildly annoying like the England national team not having regular squad numbers, to the genuinely serious like the pooling of funds at the elite level of the game and rarely that money travels down to help boost the game as a whole, especially at a grassroots level.
Somewhere in the middle of all of that are the treatment of hard tackles. On the one hand it’s good that players now receive more protection from officials (or should do, anyway) on the other hand, tackles that aren’t necessarily super violent are now resulting in red cards.
Antonee Robinson can feel aggrieved that he was sent off against Chelsea for his wild slide tackle on César Azpilicueta because he didn’t show his studs nor did he impact Azpilicueta in a way likely to cause serious harm. Yet he still came in at great speed, almost out of control, and could have done serious damage to the Chelsea captain were his legs planted. It’s a modern day sending off, but you can’t argue with it.
Fulham 0-1 Chelsea FT:
Shots on target: 2-6
Passing accuracy: 73%-88%
Possession: 30%-70% https://t.co/XYLzlkLy7G
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 16, 2021
Winner: Sam Allardyce
“Big Sam” had finally picked up a win as West Brom boss early on Saturday, beating Wolves 2-3. This result lifted them onto 11 points, into double figures for the first time this season. They were now just one point behind Fulham above them, but the bad news is Fulham had two games in-hand on them, the first of which was against Chelsea.
Well now Fulham have lost to Chelsea and remain just one point ahead of Allardyce’s West Brom with only a single game in-hand now. Has “Big Sam’s” mission to keep West Brom in the Premier League turned a corner? We’ll see.
Loser: Timo Werner
Sometimes you don’t have to play a big or even meaningful role in a game to end up as a loser. Timo Werner managed such at Craven Cottage as he came off the bench late against 10-man Fulham. This should have been a dream scenario for the German to break his long scoreless run because Fulham were flooding forward on the break and leaving lots of space for Werner to break into.
And that’s what happened. Twice in the last minutes of the game he was sent streaming through 1v1 and twice he failed to even have a shot on target. When your luck isn’t in, your luck isn’t in. Timo Werner might just need a miracle to get himself going again at Chelsea.